Game thoughts: A's take series

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For Rangers fans that thought September was going to be a stroll to the American League West title, the Oakland A’s have other ideas.

Oakland convincingly defeated the Rangers, 8-2, in the rubber game of the three-game series before 37,188 Sunday at Rangers Ballpark.

By winning the series, the A’s gained a game on the Rangers in the standings. The Rangers’ lead is down to 7½ games with just over a month remaining in the regular season.

Another left-handed starting pitcher, this time Gio Gonzalez, quieted the Rangers’ bats. In six innings, Gonzalez limited Texas to five hits.

He followed the script of teammate Dallas Braden on Saturday night when the Rangers were shut out on four hits.

It is obvious the Rangers need the right-handed bats of Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler to nullify the left-handed pitching they are seeing now.

Cruz is scheduled to start tomorrow in Kansas City and Kinsler is getting close to a return.

* Josh Hamilton accounted for both of the Rangers runs. He hit his 31st home run in the sixth inning, a blast of 403 feet off the facing of the upper deck in right field for a 7-2 score.

Hamilton ended the Rangers’ stretch of 15 scoreless innings with a looping RBI single in the third.

* There’s one constant with Colby Lewis. When he’s on the mound, Rangers runs are scarce.

Although Lewis’ pitching line was not up to his usual standard (5.2 innings, eight hits, six earned runs), it might be nice to see what he could do if he could occasionally work with, say, a three-run lead.

Lewis failed for the eighth straight time in his bid for win No. 10. But in Lewis’ last eight starts, the Rangers have scored eight runs with him on the mound.

The key play that ruined Lewis’ day was his own throwing error in the fifth inning. The Rangers trailed only 2-1 at the time and Kurt Suzuki’s comebacker should have ended the inning. Instead, the A’s scored two for a 4-1 lead and it was downhill for Lewis from there.

* David Murphy in the third inning and Josh Hamilton in the fifth just missed making diving catches on line drives against leadoff hitters. Both A’s hitters eventually scored.

* Jorge Cantu struggled in the No. 5 hole, striking out three times and hitting into a double play in the ninth. He is still looking for his first RBI with Texas.

* The damage was done by the time reliever Michael Kirkman got to mound, but the left-hander turned in another solid performance. He has not allowed a run in 6.1 innings since being promoted from Oklahoma City.